The B’s of Saint Agatha: Breasts, Brothels, Burning

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February is thought of as a month of love even for non-Catholics, because of Valentine’s Day. In this month, on February 5, we also celebrate the feast day of Saint Agatha. Here are some facts about her life that inspire us to love in a holy, chaste way.

1. Brothel

Quintianus, a magistrate who persecuted Catholics, had St. Agatha arrested and placed in a brothel. There she resisted all temptations. After that, Quintianus had her stretched on a rack, beaten, and torn to fleshy pieces from iron hooks. She never gave in to the demands of her persecutors.

2. Breasts

Quintianus was so angry with St. Agatha that he commanded for her breasts to be amputated. Butler’s Lives of the Saints give an epic quote from St. Agatha as her response to Quintainus. She said, “Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself?”

She is the patron saint of breast cancer and those who suffered sexual assault and violence.

3. Burning

St. Agatha was also burned with torches and “rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds.”

She is also the patron saint against the eruptions of volcanoes and fires. Some ancient writers had stated that Mount Aetna’s eruptions have been averted thanks to St. Agatha. Mount Aetna is in Sicily, the Italian province where St. Agatha is from. Specifically, these writers say that St. Agatha stopped the eruptions from getting to her city of Catania in Sicily.

4. Miraculous visit from St. Peter

St. Peter died sometime between A.D. 64 and 68. Yet, he visited St. Agatha in 251 to heal her of her wounds in prison.

5. Famous last words

Many Shakespearean characters had some epic last words while dying, but St. Agatha would give them a run for their money. She said, “Lord, my creator, you have always protected me from the cradle: you have taken me from the love of the world and given me the patience to suffer. Receive now my soul.”

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons, Martirio de Santa Águeda, por Sebastiano del Piombo

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